Today, Madeline is a sensation in the modern fashion world and a worldwide icon for those with disabilities. She made history back in 2015 as only the second model with down syndrome to ever walk the runway at the acclaimed New York fashion week. Madeline today has participated in 60 catwalks in cities such as London, Paris, and Dubai.
In 2015, her mother Roseanne Stuart fondly remembers accompanying her daughter to a fashion parade in their hometown of Brisbane Australia where Madeline expressed a strong desire to become a model. Little did she know that within a couple months her dream would come true.
Madeline’s initial years were plagued by challenges
When Madeline Stuart was born in Brisbane, Australia in 1996, her circumstances were not so promising. According to her mother, medical staff had told her parents that she would not begin to properly mature until the age of seven.
Her life afterwards would be full of similar challenges. Prior to her stellar modelling career, Madeline was plagued by a heart condition, limited verbal capabilities and severe weight problems, common afflictions among those afflicted by Down Syndrome. However dire the circumstances may have been, Madeline refused to give in to the drawbacks she faced. She begun a tenuous journey to get in proper shape to alleviate the affects of her heart condition and to improve her overall health.
In 2015 she becomes a champion for non-traditional standards of beauty
In 2015 Madeline’s mother uploaded photos of her daughter’s weight loss to further encourage those with disabilities to improve their own health and well-being. Within a week, the post had gone viral with 7.2 million views and coverage in over 150 countries.
Within less than a month, a South African based designer named Hendrik Vermula requested Madeline to model for his company in the New York fashion week show. This was the beginning to her quick rise to stardom in the fashion industry.
Madeline represents a change in an industry which now desires to embrace non-traditional models who don’t fit modern definitions of beauty and attractiveness.
While the response has mainly been positive, some critics have gone after Madeline’s mother for pushing her into the modelling industry akin to a ‘dance mom’. However, both Madeline and her mother reject such claims as her mother cites her daughter’s strong will and deterministic nature as a reason for her persistence to pursue a career in fashion.
Following a difficult beginning resulting from an uncontrollable illness, her mother claims it has been the first time in her life she has truly felt accepted and appreciated. According to her, this is only the beginning.
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